Nurses unions go up against hospitals as year ends
Nurses unions stage year-end actions against hospitals
Festivus, the fictional December holiday popularized by TV’S “Seinfeld,” featured an annual airing of grievances, and thousands of nurses across the country celebrated the ritual with a flurry of union activity as the year closed.
California nurses on Dec. 23, for the second time in three months, declared a one-day strike affecting 6,000 nurses at 10 hospitals. That same day, nurses at 181-bed Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center in Houston filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the hospital over concerns about a sick-day policy that union nurses said forces them to work while they have the flu.
On the East Coast, nurses at St. Luke’s-roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City called for a Jan. 3 strike at the 711-bed hospital, but the walkout was averted when the New York State Nurses Association reached an agreement late Dec. 26. Two other New York City hospitals also were threatened with strikes by nurses, including 1,039-bed Mt. Sinai Hospital, which a few days later reached an agreement with its nurses. However, negotiations broke down with 1,490-bed Montefiore Medical Center, and its union responded by calling for a Jan. 10 walkout. Whether those talks with Montefiore produced an agreement was unknown as of press time. Officials at Sutter Health, the parent of eight California hospitals where nurses missed work Dec. 23, criticized the union for their pre-christmas timing: “It’s always tougher for patients, especially tougher for the holidays,” said Karen Garner, director of communications for Sutter in Sacramento, Calif.
Karen Higgins, one of three National Nurses United co-presidents, scoffed at that notion and said the close rapport nurses hold with patients gives them better knowledge than most of how holidays affect patients, and added that hospitals served fewer patients during the holidays: “If you want to make a point with as little effect on patient care,
Nurses at Sutter Health, who went on strike Dec. 23, were criticized for their pre-christmas timing.